For Lights Out, which was based off the hugely successful viral short of the same name, Technicolor Supervising Sound Editor Bill Dean worked with the director alongside dialog and Music Mixer Mark Paterson and veteran FX Mixer Anna Behlmer at Technicolor ‘s Paramount Sound facility. The Technicolor Sound team also included Eliza Pollack Zebert (Dialog ADR Supervisor) and her crew of Christopher Welch and Susan Kurtz, the Foley crew of Alicia and Paul Stevenson and David Jobe, and the FX crew of Bruce Barris, Eric Norris, and P.K. Hooker.
Dean describes a few of the unique sounds of Lights Out and how he had to capture sounds for the film below.
What are some of the unique sounds of Lights Out?
The film’s evil specter’s (Dianna) main response to the physical world is through light. She can only exist in darkness and is hurt by light. So when light makes her disappear it’s a visual response. There’s a great scene when Rebecca (the main character) is in her apartment and the neon sign for the tattoo parlor below her is flashing on and off and we see it casting colored light on everything. As it’s flashing on and off we hear the buzzing sound that goes with it. We see the specter when the light is off then she’s gone when the light turns on. The distinct sounds for the light turning on and off helps draw the audience’s focus. Normally it’s not a sound you respond to. Turning a light on or off – it’s an innocuous sound in our daily environment – but in this context it’s extremely important for the story. You eliminate distractions and get the audience to focus in. It’s not about the cars driving by her apartment or other ambient sounds – the light going on and off – that’s important. That’s the sound story.
Is there a specific scene you can point to where you had to create a new, unique sound for the film?
Yes, one involves me in the bathtub.
When the little boy character (Martin) is moving in the bathtub we tried to pull sounds from our library but nothing sounded right. The boy is in the tub because he’s feeling like it’s a safe place to sleep, so there’s no water in the bathtub. After a late night at work my wife came into the bathroom at 2am, sees me rolling around in the bath tub fully clothed with a recorder pointed above me, and says, “what are you doing?” . . . “I’m working, honey.”